Kara Health Leverages Technology to Serve High-Risk Patients During Pandemic 

Home health care and telehealth services are particularly well-suited for compromised patients
Homecare and telehealth services are particularly well-suited for compromised patients

Homecare and telehealth services are particularly well-suited for compromised patients, and in response to the pandemic, we have expanded our capabilities to cater more widely to patients’ needs and preferences, as well as to support our patients and partners.

Everyone, patients and providers, are concerned with mitigating the risk of going to the hospital or doctor’s office in the midst of this global pandemic. Roughly six months into this strange new world, healthcare providers are still scrambling to offer safe home visits, telehealth, virtual visits, and at-home monitoring. 

Here at Kara Health, our team executed a quick shift to serve the needs of our patients, as well as our payor and provider partners. Technology has always been at the core of our operations. Because of this focus, we were uniquely positioned to be nimble when the pandemic hit. 

The Situation

In the Spring of 2020 when cases of the novel coronavirus began to surge in the United States, hospitals braced themselves for an onslaught of arrivals. Routine and non-emergency appointments were canceled. Due to the pandemic, the American Hospital Association recently predicted losses to hospitals and health systems will hit at least $323.1 billion this year.

Patients understandably were afraid to leave their homes, and equally afraid to invite in nurses or palliative care providers who may have been traveling to several other homes throughout the day. 

There was (and still is) uncertainty around how COVID-19 spreads, what the impact would be on the US healthcare system, and what best practices should and could look like. What we did know was that all of our patients were in the “high risk” category and that the vast majority of them were afraid of inpatient and outpatient settings. At Kara Health, we were uniquely capable of maintaining our high quality of care by making sure these patients had the choice of direct access to our services in-home and via telehealth. 

Prior to the pandemic, Kara Health’s services were distributed through in-person home visits and telehealth. Our business is built on technology, automation, and evidence-based clinical practices. This allowed us to execute a quick shift when the global pandemic demanded it. 

A Quick Shift Enabled by Technology 

Currently, we are serving a larger than usual portion of our palliative care population via telehealth and remote monitoring. While we understand telehealth doesn’t meet the needs of our entire patient population, we have been able to provide the majority of our services to those patients who do not feel comfortable with in-home visits. Our success, and what separates us from other service providers, is our technology. It’s what makes our operations efficient, and effective. It’s what sets our teams up for success and allows us to provide great patient care, and value to our partners. 

Long before it was a necessity, we were delivering remarkable returns for our health plan partners by doing exactly what COVID-19 now requires of us all: keeping patients out of the hospital

“At our core, we really are both a technology and clinical services company.  Our experience in brick and mortar homecare has enabled us to really focus on innovating where it moves the needle.”- Devan Walia, Kara Health Founder & CEO

Our patient engagement solution, Kara PETM provides omnichannel communication (to patients and providers) across the entire patient journey. We optimize the delivery of our services and customize programs using Kara F&D™ and Kara Pathways™, tools which help us manage each patient according to their illness and individual needs. Access to a 24-7 nurse line and a patient concierge have been part of our program since our founding. This is how we cater to patients around the clock, and let caregivers take action when needed, preventing costly emergency room visits and/or hospital stays.  

The same integrated cloud platform that drives our patient engagement and service delivery powers our back office. Administrative complexity wastes close to $270 billion annually in the healthcare industry. Eliminating such waste was something we tackled early on by automating most back-office tasks. This is also how we were quickly able to set our teams up to manage their workflows from home, without compromising outcomes. 

The Patient & Provider Experience

The palliative care population will always be high risk. This group comprises the nation’s top 2% of healthcare spenders due to a high frequency of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and inefficient management of chronic illness. This same group, those with chronic illness or nearing the end of life, fall into a high-risk category as it relates to COVID-19.

While “high-touch” service is at the core of what we do, our shift to increased use of telehealth has shown us that we can continue to mitigate acute events, and positively impact patient outcomes.

“Delivering exceptional telehealth is more than a single virtual visit,” said Ravnyssa Verma, Kara Health’s Co-Founder and Clinical Lead. “When done right, it augments traditional care and enables a more holistic experience that purposely combines digital and in-person services.”

No matter the circumstances, patient satisfaction can be elevated when technology is applied wisely and we’ve been able to stay true to our mission to provide great patient care, a great patient experience, and be invaluable assets to our partners.

Looking Ahead to the New Normal

At-home care is the safest and most cost-effective option for those who suffer serious illness and the overwhelming majority of patients prefer their home as a care setting. With the pandemic at hand, home not only feels safer, but may indeed put these patients, and their providers at less risk.

No one can say how much longer the pandemic will last, but it is certain that telehealth will continue to be a preference well after it’s “safe” to return to the hospital.

As we look toward the future, Kara Health will do what it’s always done: leverage technology, automation, and evidence-based clinical practices to continue our mission to provide great patient care, a great patient experience, and be invaluable assets to our partners.